Archive for the ‘Event Preview’ Category

HIVE 3 vibrates like a cell in your mental crotch-pocket

By Glen Callender

HIVE 3, the latest edition of Vancouver’s notorious biannual alt-theatre extravaganza, is a midget Fringe festival stuffed into a dodgy pressure cooker that could explode at any moment. In a totally good way.

This time around, 14 local theatre companies have transformed the Centre for Digital Media into a cacophonous colony of intimate performance cells, each containing a strange and delicious morsel of over-the-top experimental theatre. Some productions are viewed in relative safety from behind an alleged fourth wall; others are interactive adventures where you are part of the show.

Further complicating matters, you can’t simply line up to get into most of these shows. Instead, you must earn your seat by tracking down a person or item in the crowded concourse area—a teddy bear, a photograph, a prescription, and a key, among other things, are your tickets to certain performances.

Some of these items are easy to find. Others are frustratingly elusive. Sometimes you choose a show. Sometimes a show chooses you. And thanks to a network of cameras and microphones concealed in the common areas, you may end up performing in at least one of the shows without your knowledge.

Intrigued? Of course you are.

Performances are short and snappy at 15 minutes max, but with 14 shows running continuously on independent schedules, it’s impossible to see everything in one night. But don’t sweat what you don’t see—the place is buzzing and there’s plenty of honey to go around.

In the end I managed to see five of the 14 shows—but I won’t attempt to influence your trajectory by reviewing any of them. With one exception.

Whatever you do, try not to miss a clever little truffle called Frisk. When you see people wearing large headphones wandering around the common area, look approachable. If you are approached (which is by no means guaranteed) you’re in for an amusingly invasive interactive experience. See it with a complete stranger. You probably will.

Make a beeline to HIVE 3. Be there when the doors open at 7 p.m. to maximize your show-going potential. And have fun, my beloved little theatre drones.

At the Centre for Digital Media (577 Great Northern Way) until March 20. Tickets @


PREVIEW: Salute to Vienna

Entering its 15th season, the Salute to Vienna (STV) concert series has become a favourite holiday musical tradition throughout North America. The series combines the brilliant talents of The Strauss Symphony of Canada with stellar European maestros, tenors, sopranos and dancers to perform and celebrate the glorious, uplifting music of Vienna’s “Waltz King”, Johann Strauss Jr., and his contemporaries. STV is delightfully reminiscent of Vienna’s famous and beloved Neujahrskonzert, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for over 70 years and televised annually to 1.3 billion people around the globe.  Over the past decade STV has grown into the largest live concert series of its kind in North America, under the leadership of Attila and Marion Glatz, founders and producers of this unique project.

In 1995, STV premiered in Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.  By 2004 the show was presented in 33 major concert halls over a 5 day period across the continent, including sold-out performances in Montreal (Place des Arts), Vancouver (Orpheum Theatre), Calgary (Jack Singer Concert Hall tat the Epcor Centre), Los Angeles (the Walt Disney Concert Hall), Philadelphia (the Kimmel Center), Washington (the Kennedy Center), New York (the Lincoln Center) and Boston (Symphony Hall). The 2010 concert will mark its 14th season in Vancouver.

Salute to Vienna is the only genuine re-creation of the original Viennese production and is officially recognized by the Mayor of Vienna as an authentic Viennese New Year’s celebration. What Nutcracker means to Christmas, Salute to Vienna means to the New Year!

Salute to Vienna plays on Friday, January 1 at 2:30 pm at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre

For a complete list of Salute to Vienna concerts and ticket information visit: or call 1-800-545-7807.  Group rates available.

PREVIEW: Drawing From Life – Brian Boulton’s Streetwise Beauty

The texture of a pair of jeans, the folds of a leather jacket, the draping of a canvas bag – all of these everyday objects, are the subjects of Brian Boulton’s work. Referenced from his own digital photographs, the artist uses graphite to render, in hyper-realist detail, anonymous subjects in the kind of street clothes we see daily. Without names, faces, or even background details, the full-body figures—all male—are caught unaware, usually from behind—about to cross a street, in the midst of a conversation, walking. With no context other than a frame and white backdrop—without the urban environment in which they would blend—Boulton’s pedestrians pop out at the viewer. Our attention becomes focused on the details of strangers. An underlying sensuality emerges in their inhibition. The unknown figures have a subtle but undeniable appeal.

In his latest show, Boulton is exhibiting a new series of portraits, the type that his rapidly growing following has come to expect, but also examples of his work’s new directions. Seven of the pieces are anonymous—the subject facing away, nameless. But three new ones are of one subject in particular, Boulton’s muse, who is turned slightly towards us. A life-size piece, every fold, crease and stitch drawn in real-space, will greet gallery patrons as the Winsor Gallery presents Brian Boulton: Drawings, November 4 – 29, 2009.

The artist began the series 10 years ago as a natural confluence of two interests he has had since he was a teen: photography and drawing.

After studying architectural rendering at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC, Boulton moved to Vancouver. Here, he studied Film and Art History at Langara College and immersed himself in the arts scene. He has been employed in the arts and worked in galleries and with other artists for over 30 years.

A significant turning point was assisting his friend and mentor Attila Richard Lukacs. “It was supposed to be for two weeks, and turned into two years,” says Boulton. “To go into a studio with him, it was like throwing on a switch in my brain. I thought, ‘This is how to work. This is a working studio’.”

Lukacs was an early supporter—as early as possible, considering Boulton didn’t begin to draw seriously until he started his series of anonymous street portraiture. “I’d always avoided what I do best,” he says.

Drawing in Vancouver has recently resurged, with the success of this past summer’s Drawn Festival. The three-week event featured the work of dozens of artists displayed in multiple Vancouver-area galleries and museums in the first exhibit of its kind in Canada.

To Boulton, drawing connects with people in a very basic way. “People have a desire to be entertained, and a desire, especially now, to connect with art. Drawing does that automatically.”  However, it is the combination of Boulton’s technical mastery and provocative subject matter, which grabs the viewers’ attention.

“As an emerging talent who creates sophisticated work, Brian Boulton embodies everything we look for in an artist at the Winsor Gallery,” says Jennifer Winsor. “His work is striking in its simplicity, while at the same time beguiles viewers with his drawing skills.”

A long-time people watcher, Boulton sums up his feelings about his work in a simple statement.

“It’s not the infrastructure that makes a city,” says the artist. “It’s the people.”

Brian Bolton: Drawings runs at the Winsor Gallery, 3025 Granville Street, from November 4-29.

PREVIEW: Gomez: Best enjoyed live

by Nick Black

It’s not necessarily easy for me to discuss Gomez. My relationship to the band is like an unrequited love—or perhaps a love lost would be a more apt comparison. You see, I loved Gomez. You could say they were my first musical love, the first band I really fell in love with. Sure, I’ve always loved the Stones—they will always be my ultimate—but the Stones were like that older woman crush that you had on your second grade teacher, or one of your friends mum’s. Gomez was like my first girl crush when you were old enough to want to talk to girls, hold their hand, and maybe, just maybe, get a peck on the cheek. But then Gomez cheated on me; they went mainstream and lost all that had made me fall in love with them.

Yet, as with an ex lover, you can never quite forget them, no matter what kind of idiot they may be dating now. And so I have followed Gomez, despite my disappointment, and have seen them every time they have come to Vancouver to play live (four times now, I think). Though I may not like their newer stuff, the live show they put on is still second to none. The guys have been together long enough that they seem to communicate with each other through their instruments and nothing else, a slight change in lead guitar work will send the band, as one, into a whole different direction. Their 2005 release Out West (recorded live at the Filmore in San Francisco) is a perfect example of the outstanding live show they put on. Everything from the crowd interaction, right down to set list, is perfect. Not to mention their choice of covers: “Black Eyed Dog” by the underappreciated Nick Drake, and “Goin’ Out West” by the similarly underappreciated king of modern music, Tom Waits.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that although their last few albums have left much to be desired (which is a huge understatement), their live show will nail you to the wall. And, if you go to Virgin fest this weekend, the only bands that may be on a similar level will be the Roots and potentially the newly formed Spinarette. There is a reason Gomez takes the place of my first musical love, and seeing them live says it all.

Gomez is part of the Virgin Fest line-up on July 26 at Deer Lake Park.

PREVIEW: Blink 182: Keep the clothes on this time boys—you’re old now

by Laura Melvin

It’s been a decade since three naked guys ran across our TV sets committing random acts of deviant behaviour, causing us to wonder how old they were. For their breakthrough album, Enema of the State (preceded by the under-the-radar Dude Ranch, which did produce the hit “Dammit”), Mark, Tom and Travis of Blink 182 sang about aliens, sex, and a guy named Gary with an intestinal disease.  This led to a cascade of hilariously inappropriate and entertaining stage shows that made crowds roar with laughter the world over.

Do you remember when they were funny?  I know the memory is fuzzy now, but for a while they were the funniest band in the world.  But, unfortunately, they decided to grow up and get married and have kids, which inevitably turned them into mushy, love song writing knobs (ie: the abysmal “I Miss You” off 2003’s self-titled disappointment).

Blink did try to be deep and meaningful early on with “Adam’s Song” on Enema of the State and “Stay Together for the Kids” on Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Back then, they were smart enough to compliment these sappy songs with ridiculous song titles like “Dysentery Gary” and upbeat head-bobbing tunes like “The Rock Show” so that we didn’t burn them at the stake for trying to make us think about difficult issues.  Thinking was not what the original Blink 182 was about!  No wonder they went on hiatus to explore different avenues, however unsuccessful (*cough Tom’s band Angels & Airwaves).  Their newfound maturity didn’t fit the image fans had of Blink 182 as a raunchy, foul-mouthed band of loveable delinquents.

So why am I excited for the upcoming Blink 182 show?  Why bother, you may ask?  Because the memories I have of early Blink 182 shows and listening to Enema of the State are some of the best concert memories I’ve ever had.  I am so excited to sing along to “What’s My Age Again?” and “Dammit” with the band that I’ll endure the agony of listening to whatever crap they play off 2003’s Blink 182. My fingers are crossed that the show will more closely resemble The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show: The Enema Strikes Back than the funeral that was the Angels & Airwaves concert I accidentally went to last time they were in town.  I realize that the band is seriously old now (in rock star years anyway), and that they have wives, and kids. But shouldn’t those kids get to see the reason their fathers became famous in the first place, swearing, nudity, and all?

For those of you debating whether or not to attend the show, go back and listen to your early Blink albums to get a feel for what Blink 182 was before the crap invaded.  They were never meant to be great songwriters or great musicians; they were meant to have fun! To everyone who’s ever been to a Blink 182 show, or listened to The Enema Strikes Back: BOOBIES!!!! See you at the show.

Blink 182 plays at General Motors Place on July 28. For tickets visit UQ Events.

Bearded flannel horsepower makes for a great live show

by Nick Black

There are a mere few great bands that will kick your ass as soon as you hear them. Most great bands, or singer/songwriters, take time to grow on you. I think every single Radiohead album I’ve heard takes at least a solid month for me to truly get into. I’m not saying that Band of Horses is on the same level as Radiohead, but they do take just as much time, if not maybe a little more, before one can truly understand what they are trying to do. What will speed up that process is going to see them live. Hunter S. Thompson once wrote when he was reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, that the book “was good, if not maybe great, but it’s like water when all you want is whiskey.” At first, Band of Horses felt like that to me: all bag and no balls, but that’s where seeing them live comes in. They are straight up rock and roll.

Last year I was fortunate enough to see them open for Beck. Let’s face it, most of us concert goers rarely bother to make the opener, for a number of reasons: beer being too expensive is definitely number one; those first few openers we did bother to go see in our early concert days really disappointed; and they often have ridiculous names that are trying far too hard to be clever, and thus force us to hate them without even hearing their music.

Well, last year I made the effort to see the opener at Beck, and, being brutally honest, Band of Horses killed it. In fact, they blew Beck out of the water. They had a huge band, up to nine on stage at one point (admittedly some were guest performers), flannel shirts and huge beards; in other words, they oozed rock and roll. When Beck came out afterward, in a ludicrous Jamie Foxx style fedora and skinny jeans, it was hard to see him as the musical virtuoso he is. Perhaps that was Band of Horses’ mistake; they were too good to be an opener.

All my ridiculous ranting aside, everyone must check out Band of Horses when they finally headline their own big show here in Vancouver at the Commodore on September 4th, you will not be disappointed.